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Phoenix firefighters head out to help Sandy victims

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A team of valley firefighters are on their way to the east coast to help out with the rescue efforts for Hurricane Sandy.

Crews from Phoenix Fire Department's Arizona Task Force One are packing up for their journey.

More than 80 people left Wednesday afternoon.

The group is made up of Phoenix firefighters, a number of specialists, and a search and rescue dog.

"We're going to send 80 of our members from Phoenix Fire department, trained in everything from search dogs, concrete specialists, water specialists… we have everything in this unit, they're going to load up their semis and drive out tonight," said Phoenix Fire Capt. Jonathan Jacobs.

They're taking a lot of equipment with them and expecting to arrive in just over a day and a half.

The first Red Cross volunteer from the valley is also on her way to the disaster zone.

66-year-old Martha Iskyan is a retired psychologist from Fountain Hills. She will serve as a Red Cross mental health supervisor for the next two weeks.

Iskyan is expecting to hear from people who lost their homes and witnessed devastation from Hurricane Sandy.

"They need just somebody they can tell their story to or somebody that just holds their hands, some may just want to cry," she said. "Right now my plans are to report to a shelter in White Plains New York, so I'll drive there tomorrow morning... but it could all change."

Iskyan is scheduled to arrive Wednesday night in Philadelphia and drive to New York on Thursday morning.

Update: The Phoenix Fire Department search and rescue team was deactivated by FEMA about 7 p.m. Wednesday.

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